The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the leadership of the Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee yesterday declared that it will hold a fresh convention on August 17 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to elect new national party executives.
It also declared that while the North will retain the presidential slot ahead of 2019, the new national chairman of the party will emerge from the Southern part of the country, unlike the previous zoning arrangement which zoned the chairman to the North.
This was the resolution of the party’s caucus meeting held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja yesterday, which was attended by key organs of the party.
However, many party stakeholders were taken aback by the sudden arrival of Senator Buruji Kashamu, a staunch supporter of the Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff faction, at the meeting.
Kashamu, since the party’s leadership crisis started, had remained one of Sheriff’s backbones.
He was said to have spear-headed the continuation of Sheriff as chairman ahead of the May 21 convention of party, and stood by Sheriff in the aftermath of the embattled former chairman’s travails.
But indications of a souring of relations between them had manifested earlier in the week when Sheriff’s media aide, Inuwa Bwala, issued a statement disclaiming media report that tagged Kashamu as Sheriff’s godfather.
Meanwhile, addressing newsmen after the caucus meeting yesterday, Makarfi said: “We discussed some programmes leading to convention, meaning that the national convention will hold on August 17 in Port Harcourt, 2016, where we will elect new national executive officers of the party.
“We have also discussed and agreed on a new amendment to the constitution in view of recent court judgements in order to align the constitution to the judgements that have been delivered by courts of competent jurisdiction.
“Equally we received reports of reconciliation. You can see by yourself – our brothers, friends and associates – Sen Buruji Kashamu.
“That is evidence of the reconciliation making progress and I can assure you that we will never foreclose full reconciliation with Sen Ali Modu Sheriff and any other person that may still be associated with him. What we want is an all-inclusive PDP; an equitable, fair and just system in the PDP, where the right of everyone commensurate with their own level is protected and preserved.”
Markafi further disclosed that the party had set up a special committee led by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, “to further cement the reconciliation within the South West so that all issues that must have led to the division in the South West would be resolved accordingly.”
Speaking on the zoning arrangement, he said: “We also discussed about zoning. Within the next few days a committee will be set up on zoning. The convention set aside the previous zoning arrangement, so a new zoning arrangement has to be made. We have agreed that with the next 48 hours, this committee should be put in place and given a week to come out with a new zoning arrangement.
“But, of course, taking a cue from the decision taken at the Port Harcourt convention that the president will come from the North; of course, it is incontrovertible that the chairman of the party will come from the South and it will be open to all and not consigned to any geopolitical zone or state in the South.”
Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Sen Walid Jubrin, said the party’s officials were optimistic that the litigations would be withdrawn before the convention date.
He added the party was still dialoguing with Sheriff, and that they had held a meeting with him on Wednesday night which stretched to 4am yesterday.
On whether he is convinced on withdrawal of litigations before convention, the BoT chairman said, “If you see Kashamu coming to our side fully, embracing our national caretaker committee, whatever this group says will be acceptable to him.
We have been meeting with Sheriff. Even yesterday we spent until 4am this morning. And there is progress with Sheriff. He is human being and I am sure he will follow suit.”
Some of the members present at the meeting were Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Darius Ishyaku (Taraba), and Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe).
Others are former national chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo; former Senate president, Adolphus Wabara; BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin; Professors Jerry Gana and Tunde Adeniran and Senator Ibrahim Mantu, among others.